As I wrote this morning, I awoke overwhelmed with anxieties. My daughter injured her knee badly at the beginning of her Christmas break, and she had to have surgery last week. The surgery was pretty extensive, and she’ll need physical therapy. She’s also late returning to school to begin spring semester. I have been dreading calling Tricare to get everything sorted out because dealing with them has raised my blood pressure throughout this ordeal. And I’ve been trying to figure out how to get her back to school without missing a lot of work because I haven’t built up many sick days.
So this morning, encouraged by Psalm 37 and Matthew Henry’s words, I prayed about it, casting my cares on my Lord. And at lunch I came home, took a deep breath, and dialed Tricare to begin the dreaded task. And you know what? A very kind lady answered my call (after all of the “press 1 for mental health care, press 2 for….” hoops), and took time to go through all the notes on my daughter’s case and help us solve the dilemma of her needing care both here where I live and up at school. She expressed concern for our situation, and worked hard to make sure my daughter is taken care of.
Then my parents helped me to figure out a way to get Caroline to school and minimize my time off work.
As I drove back to work, I realized that God just showed me the lesson I wrote about this morning. I know it doesn’t always work out so smoothly, but today I felt like He was telling me, “See? I told you.”
And I don’t mind that one bit.
As I work through memorizing and meditating on Psalm 37, Matthew Henry helps me to think about verses 5 and 6. First, here is the psalmist:
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
And here’s Matthew Henry:
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, the burden of thy care. We must roll it off ourselves, not afflict and perplex ourselves with thoughts about future events, but refer them to God. By prayer spread thy case and all thy cares before the Lord, and trust in him. We must do our duty, and then leave the event with God. The promise is very sweet: He shall bring that to pass, whatever it is, which thou has committed to him.
I don’t post this here because I’ve got this all figured out. I post it because I’m constantly challenged to “refer [my anxieties] to God.” I need the reminders because I all too often “afflict and perplex [myself] with thoughts about future events.” In fact, my first thoughts this morning went to some burdens I’m carrying, and I was overwhelmed before my head left my pillow.
So here I am — again! — needing to cast my burdens on my Lord. As Henry instructs, I must do my duty and then “leave the event with God.”
And one way to remind myself of these truths is to hide Psalm 37 in my heart. Anyone want to join me?
I’ve been working on memorizing Psalm 37, and last week I was focusing on verses 1 through 4. I came across a sermon from John Piper on the first part of this Psalm, and it has helped my understanding as I meditate on the psalmist’s words. Piper preaches on the unbelief of envy, and he explains that the commands in verses 3 through 8 are the antidote to envy:
Notice these positive things that you’re supposed to put in place of envy in your emotions. “Trust” (verse 3), “delight” (verse 4), “Commit” (verse 5), and “trust” again in the second half of verse 5. So the reason I chose Psalm 37 tonight is because it teaches us that envy is unbelief, or has its root in unbelief. And the opposite of envy we see is faith, or trust, or delighting in God, or rolling your burdens onto the Lord.
So I hope it is clear that when we are beginning to envy—when we’re starting to look at somebody and resent that they have something and we don’t—and we’re beginning to lose our peace and contentment in God because of it, the issue is faith. Okay? That’s the point so far.
Then he gives 6 reasons why believing is better than unbelief. I encourage you to click over and read them.
From Holiness Day by Day: Transformational Thoughts for Your Spiritual Journey by Jerry Bridges:
To take up this sword [Ephesians 6:17], we must have it at hand, in our hearts. We must be like the psalmist who said, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). This principle of storing up God’s Word has a much wider application than only keeping us from sin. The Word, stored in the heart, provides a mental depository for the Holy Spirit to use to mediate His grace to us, whatever our need for grace might be.
As I begin to memorize Psalm 37, I’ve been thinking about the very first verse:
Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
I know what fretting means (because I do it!), but I looked it up to get clarity. Dictionary.com tells me that it means “to feel or express worry, annoyance, discontent, or the like.”
But what really stands out to me in that verse in this age of non-judgmentalism is that the psalmist dares to label or categorize some people as “evildoers” and “wrongdoers”. How very un-postmodern of him! Do you remember how President George W. Bush was castigated for using one of those terms? And more and more, I hear Christians refuse to call evil evil or evildoers evildoers because they’re afraid of “judging”.
It’s worth some more thought.
P.S. Don’t forget about my Tim Keller book giveaway!
Knowing that the best laid plans often go astray, I still think it’s important at least to make a loose plan. I know that I work better that way; your mileage may vary. Having completed the 3650 Bible reading plan in 2012, I want to focus more deeply on books of Scripture. I also want to get some of the Word into my heart by memorizing it.
I don’t have a plan for the whole year sketched out, but I am beginning by studying and memorizing Psalm 37. I’m copying the Memory Moleskine idea and have typed up the Psalm, dividing it into manageable chunks for memorization. Lord willing, I should have it memorized in ten weeks. After those ten weeks, I want to read, study, and do some memorization of 1 Peter.
As for my other reading, my master’s coursework will have to take priority. I start an Anglo-Saxon literature course in a couple of weeks. I haven’t yet seen the reading list.
Another goal is to stop purchasing books until I read more of the ones I already own. This will probably take more self-control than I can muster, but I’m going to give it a shot. I think I’ll go to a different bookshelf each time it’s time for a new book, and pick one I haven’t read.
I’ll try to review some books, and I’ve been making updates at Goodreads.
Do you have reading plans for 2013? Please share! And if anyone wants to memorize Psalm 37 with me, I’ll try to post or email the plan I put together.
Oh, and don’t forget about my giveaway. Just click on over and leave a comment for a chance to win a tiny but powerful book.